Hydraulic performance assessment and benchmarking of water distribution networks (WDNs) impose a major challenge to water utilities worldwide. Presently, benchmarking strategies for WDNs are not fully developed, especially for analyzing intermittent systems commonly encountered in non-developed nations. To overcome these limitations, this paper proposes an index-based benchmarking strategy for WDNs, comparing their actual hydraulic performance and expected serviceability. A robust Hydraulic Performance Index (HPI) is developed as a global metric to account for the combined impact of multiple hydraulic outputs, concerning their benchmark values. The applicability of this index is verified on a numerical benchmark network, and its usefulness is demonstrated on a real-world intermittent WDN located in Kolkata (India) by coupling the HPI-based framework with hydraulic models using the EPANET-MATLAB programmer's toolkit. A scenario-based analysis is conducted using extended-period simulation to obtain the HPI for diverse service levels and leakage conditions of the WDN models. The HPI is designed to effectively capture the localized pressure reduction during peak flow, prioritize hydraulic outputs based on regional constraints, and penalize systems with unsustainably high hydraulic output. The developed strategy is also effective in performance benchmarking of WDNs of different nations with diverse serviceability and threshold parameters on a common platform. Finally, the practical efficacy and generalizability of the HPI-based results in the context of case-specific performance management of WDNs, along with limitations, recommendations and future perspectives are elucidated upon.
- Hydraulic benchmarking
- Hydraulic performance index
- Intermittent supply
- Multi-criteria decision modeling
- Performance management